Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 38 - September 23 - September 29, 2017

01 Cover

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:40 AM ]

03 Index

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:39 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:38 AM ]

05 Editorial - World Tourism Day 2017

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:36 AM ]

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, celebrated on September 27, the Church joins civil society in addressing this phenomenon, in the conviction that every genuinely human activity must find its place in the hearts of Christ's disciples. The theme chosen for this year is: "Sustainable tourism: a tool for development".

For the first time, this message is issued by the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as part of its mission. When we say tourism, we are talking about a phenomenon of major importance, both in light of the number of people involved (travellers and workers) and for the many benefits that it can bring to society (economic, cultural and social), but also given the risks and dangers that it can create in many areas.

According to the World Tourism Organisation's latest Barometer for the year 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals is around 1.2 billion. Worldwide, the sector accounts for 10 per cent of GDP and seven per cent of total exports, also considering that one out of 11 jobs are in tourism. It therefore occupies an important place in the economies of individual states and in policies that focus on inclusive development and environmental sustainability globally.

Tourism can be an important tool for growth and the fight against poverty. Nevertheless, according to the Church's social doctrine, true development "cannot be restricted to economic growth alone." In fact, "to be authentic, it must be well rounded"; that is, 'it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man - including material and spiritual needs for the full development of each person in dignity', as the Encyclical Populorum progressio notes.

In 1987, the UN introduced the concept of sustainable development as a development that "meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." For the Church, the concept of integrality, when connected to the expression "human development", also includes the United Nations' idea of sustainability, and embraces all aspects of life: social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual - making them elements in a single synthesis - the human person.

Promoting sustainable tourism means that it must be responsible, and not destructive or detrimental to the environment nor to the socio-cultural context of the locality. Moreover, it must be particularly respectful of the population and their heritage, with a view to safeguarding personal dignity and labour rights, especially those of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

In its 2017 Resolution, the United Nations recognises "the important role of sustainable tourism as a positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment, the improvement of quality of life and the economic empowerment of women and youth and its contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, especially in developing countries."

In this sense, three dimensions of sustainability are promoted: the ecological - aiming for the maintenance of ecosystems; the social - which develops in harmony with the host community; and the economic - which stimulates inclusive growth.

The Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel. Christians who wish to offer their contribution to tourism must assist in the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged. We must put the human person as the focus of our attention; we recognise the dignity of each person and the relationships among persons; we must share the principle of the common destiny of the human family and the universal destination of earthly goods.

The human being acts not as a master, but as a 'responsible steward'. In acknowledging each other as brothers and sisters and as gratuitous gifts of God, we will pursue our duties of solidarity, justice and universal charity.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

06 Release of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:32 AM ]

"A moving Spiritual Experience" - Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who was in Rome during the release of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil by his abductors, at the request of the Holy Father accompanied His Holiness Pope Francis to welcome and speak to him, as he arrived at the Vatican at the Santa Marta residence. Cardinal Gracias described the event "as highly charged with emotion that brought tears to the eyes" of Fr Tom, the Pontiff and to himself. He said Fr Uzhunnalil kissed the Pope's hands and touched his feet and lay prostrate before him. Pope Francis hugged the priest, and told him that he was praying for him during his captivity.

Cardinal Oswald said that though Fr Tom looked frail and weak, he was not broken in spirit and seemed calm and composed. The gratitude to God that he expressed exuded a sense of deep faith and trust in God. He radiated a profound and moving experience of being always in proximity to the presence of God. The conversation that ensued revealed that the victim of the abductors was a man of great prayer and undying faith. He said that he prayed daily and carried out celebrating the Eucharist in his room spiritually. Even though bread and wine were not there, he entreated God to provide him spiritual bread and wine that sustained him through this severe ordeal.

He explained that he was treated well by the Islamic State terrorists in Yemen; when he was unwell, he was offered medical assistance and had a full check-up. He claimed to have celebrated two birthdays and had considerable freedom to move during his incarceration. While being transported, he was blindfolded, but always treated gently. Fr Tom was abducted in March last year when the terror group attacked a Home run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He was concerned about the safety of the other victims who were kidnapped and rumoured to be killed.


07 Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - F. K. Bartels

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:28 AM ]

"The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 328)

On September 29, we celebrate the Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - Archangels. Though we cannot know of all the many times these magnificent spirits and powerful allies have entered into history to accomplish God's will, protecting us, driving away demons, and bearing forth messages of God's providential plan of salvation, some of their specific actions are recorded in Sacred Scripture, and in each case, we obtain a glimpse into their ardent love for God, intently focused will and formidable intellect.

"Who is like God"

In the Office of Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours, which is a part of the official, liturgical and public prayer of the Church, the antiphon reads: "The sea grew turbulent and the earth trembled when Michael the Archangel came down from heaven."

As we read in Scripture, it was St Michael who long ago led the battle against Satan: "Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him." (Rev 12:7-9)

The name 'Michael' means "who is like God." St Michael's will is focused, immovable, and entirely driven towards accomplishing goodness: he is a protector of souls, and wields his unrelenting sword of righteous justice against the poisonous and vindictive aspirations of the one who is known as a liar from the beginning. During a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, St John Paul II said, "The battle against the devil ... is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel."


08 Blessed Frederic Ozanam - Dominic Pinto

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:27 AM ]

Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, although a Frenchman, was born in the Italian city of Milan on April 23, 1813. Two years later, his family returned to Lyons in France, where Ozanam spent his youth.

At the age of sixteen, Ozanam was greatly disturbed by religious doubts. However, he overcame these doubts, and emerged from this trial with a deepened and better instructed Catholic faith under the guidance of a priest. He decided to use his talents to promote better social conditions, raise the moral standards and defended the Catholic faith in France.

In 1831, Ozanam began his studies in Law at the Sorbonne University in Paris. The mood at Sorbonne was materialist and anti-Christian. While at Sorbonne, he found it difficult to defend the Catholic Church. Troubled with this challenge of his adversaries - 'Show us your work to prove the truth of your faith', Ozanam and his companions formed the Conference of Charity to visit and assist the poor in their own homes. "Let us go to the poor" was their answer to the challenge. They realised that it was necessary to show themselves as truly Catholic, more by their works than by their words.

On an evening in May of 1833, Professor Emmanuel Bailly, an elderly ex-professor of Philosophy, presided over the first meeting of the Conference of Charity, at which were present Frederic Ozanam and his six companions. A few simple rules were laid down, and this was the beginning of what was, in time, to become the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Before Ozanam died at the age of 40, the society had spread to Western Europe, Greece, Turkey, USA, Mexico and Canada. Today, it is world-wide with about 7,80,000 active members, and 70,000 Conferences spread over 148 countries!


09 The Life and Times of St Vincent de Paul - Julius D'Souza

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:25 AM ]

This year, in January 2017, the Vincentian Family inaugurated its Jubilee Year, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its charism, which calls it to a life dedicated to the service of the poor. For it is 400 years since St Vincent de Paul first saw the light in 1617, and became an apostle of charity. The Vincentian family comprises religious congregations that he founded, as well as lay members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (founded by Bl. Frederic Ozanam) and many others who follow St Vincent de Paul's charism.

The Life-changing Year

The year 1617 is an important one in Vincent's life. During a visit to Folleville, he was called to the bedside of a farmer. Vincent encouraged him to make a general confession. The farmer confessed sins he had hidden and never confessed before, and now felt an overpowering joy. It made Vincent aware of the spiritual abandonment of the poor country people. A few days later, on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul (January 25), Vincent gave a powerful sermon - "the first sermon of the mission" - on how to make a general confession. He touched people's hearts, and they thronged to him for confession. He saw another mission God had in store for him - to bring the Gospel to the poor people of the countryside.

Founding Congregations

Eight years after this incident, Vincent founded the Congregation of the Mission - priests dedicated to this special charism. Later, he established in and around Paris the Confraternities of Charity i.e. associations of lay women who visited, fed and nursed the sick. In a short time, these confraternities reached all French cities, with numerous ladies joining them. With St Louise de Marillac, Vincent co-founded the Daughters of Charity (Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul) in 1633.

A Life Well Lived


11 Major Projects of the Society of St Vincent De Paul in India - Joseph Soares

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:08 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:08 AM ]

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is an international organisation working towards the empowerment of the poor, the needy, the sick, the suffering, the marginalised, the lonely, and the ostracised sections of society. It brooks no discrimination, and extends its selfless services to people of all castes, creeds, culture, colour, country or politics.

The organisation is present in 149 countries, rising above the ashes to eradicate poverty, emphatic in its service to humankind through its varied initiatives and programmes, through a multitude of projects, directed to bringing the much needed ray of hope and relief to suffering humanity.

During the financial year 2016-17 itself, a total amount of Rs 1,27,20,019/- was sanctioned towards various projects within the National Council of India – SSVP. Of this sizable amount, Rs 49,02,747/- was disbursed to 69 Conferences of 15 Central Councils of Kerala Region alone.

A brief round-up of the various projects sanctioned and implemented successfully include self-help, fish vending, house upgradation / construction, cow distribution, buffalo/ cow/ goat project, sewing machines distribution, agriculture, common toilets, computer training centres, fruit/vegetable vending, milk dairy, bicycle distribution, coir making units, petty shops, water irrigation and distribution schemes, etc. to mention a few.


13 Get Up, Stand Up…Don’t Give Up The Fight - Pamela Fernandes

posted Sep 21, 2017, 8:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 21, 2017, 8:04 AM ]

In the peace building trainer's manual of Caritas, one can learn how culture is a key component in conflict. Culture influences the process of conflict – how it unfolds, which events trigger violence, and the interpretation of events and messages. Culture also affects how we perceive different events which can give rise to conflict.

The manual goes on further to teach us the various stages of conflict which is comparable to fire, and shows how conflict goes through a number of stages that have particular elements, making it unique. The first or beginning stage is gathering material for the fire; in the second stage, a match is all that is required to light the fire which begins to burn and spread out. The third stage is described as the bonfire or the crisis stage, when most of the damage happens. This is followed by the next stage when the fire dies out, but the embers are still live and can be a threat or start of another potential conflict. Lastly is the 'fire out' stage when the crisis or fire dies out completely, and the regeneration begins.

Reading the signs of the times today, I wonder how far we are from the actual crisis or bonfire stage. A few weeks ago, a senior journalist was brutally silenced. Many such isolated events have taken place in the past, pointing clearly to the preparation for the first stage of the fire. What has been our response as Church? A protest call sent on social media the day after her death to meet at several places across the country beckoned us out of our comfort zones to honour Gauri Lankesh, to stand up for justice, to show solidarity with the fearless woman who had the courage to call a spade a spade, and where were we? It was sadly noted that there were barely five or six of us representing "the Church", including some clergy at the Bandra gathering. Yet, another protest a few days later on a Church-related matter brought in heaps of people from far flung corners of the diocese. Why are we so parochial and tend to operate in the 'action mode' only when matters concern us directly like the desecration of church/crosses and church-related properties, and feel no need to act otherwise? Ignoring these isolated events that are also unconstitutional will finally lead to an uncontrolled bonfire that will destroy the fabric of unity in diversity and create irreparable fissures in our minds and hearts.


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